Where and when can I go on holiday?

Thinking of booking a holiday in the UK or abroad? Find info on COVID-19 restrictions, travel insurance and changes to the ‘traffic light’ system here. Be sure to check the relevant government websites for updates as well, as the situation is constantly changing. 

Thinking of booking a holiday in the UK or abroad? Find info on COVID-19 restrictions, travel insurance and changes to the ‘traffic light’ system here. Be sure to check the relevant government websites for updates as well, as the situation is constantly changing. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
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Posted 30 SEPTEMBER 2021

Can I go abroad on holiday? 

Yes, you can. Travellers from England have legally been able to visit some countries on holiday without quarantining on return since 17 May and rules are being further relaxed. 

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions 

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.  

The Money Advice Service has also launched a directory of insurance providers, who may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling them on 0800 138 7777. 

Can I go on holiday in the UK?

Yes. Travelling within England was given the green light on 12 April and nearly all restrictions were lifted on 19 July. Many restrictions have also now been lifted in Scotland and Wales, but the situation could change, so make sure you check the relevant government website before you book any travel. 

For more information, see GOV.UK, GOV.Wales and Visit Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, all holiday accommodation can open and up to 15 people from four households can stay together. Children aged 12 and under do not count towards the total. 

For more information, see nidirect

What are the rules for going on holiday abroad? 

The government says you shouldn’t travel to countries on a designated red list for holidays. If you do travel to any of these destinations, you’ll have to pre-book and pay for a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel for your arrival back on UK soil. You’ll also be tested ahead of your flight home and take two PCR tests after your arrival. 

Countries are categorised based on infection rates, COVID-19 variants and vaccinations, so will be updated and changed regularly. Make sure you check the government website before you book and follow the rules for where you live: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Will I need to take a Covid test to go abroad?

Passengers are currently required to take COVID-19 tests before travelling to and returning from all destinations. However, from 4 October, provided you can prove you are fully vaccinated, you will no longer have to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before you return to England. However, you’ll still have to take a test on or before day two of your arrival. 

See what qualifies as being fully vaccinated on the GOV.UK website. From the end of October, the government says those people who qualify as being fully vaccinated will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than a PCR test, on day two of their arrival in England. 

Different countries also have different entry requirements in terms of COVID-19 vaccinations, so make sure you check before you book. 

You can’t take a free NHS test for a holiday, so you’ll need to pay for private tests. Most destinations require the more accurate PCR test, which can be expensive when taken privately, rather than the fast lateral-flow test. PCR test results take longer as they have to go to a lab for analysis, so you need to make sure you can get the test done and the results back in time before you travel. 

Remember that things are changing globally every day, so it’s key to do your research ahead of booking anything in the UK or further afield. Check the relevant government websites for the latest information ahead of booking. 

Chris King

Head of travel insurance

“For those planning a trip at home or abroad, travel insurance has become even more essential given the ongoing and fast-changing nature of COVID-19-related restrictions. 

“The pandemic has changed the types of cover offered by insurers and people should consider the differences between policies when buying travel insurance. Some policies may offer cover for COVID-19-related disruption, for instance if your flight is cancelled or you are denied boarding due to suspected COVID-19 symptoms, but some providers do not currently offer this cover. When buying a travel insurance policy, it is even more crucial to read the details carefully to ensure you know what you will be covered for. It is also important to check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) guidance for any country you are planning to travel to as different places will have their own rules and restrictions." 

Holiday checklist

Travel expert and podcast host Holly Rubenstein takes you through our essential travel checklist for a great holiday. 

Check whether your passport is valid

Chances are that you haven’t flown in a while, so you might be out of practice when it comes to all of those travel details you need to remember, from the clear plastic bags for liquids to having a current passport.  

New Brexit rules for most countries require that you have at least six months left on your passport at the date of travel, so this is something you want to be on top of sooner rather than later. If you’re travelling with little ones, remember that kids’ passports last five years instead of 10, so they may need renewing too.

Check whether you need a visa

Popular destinations, from Egypt to the Maldives, require UK travellers to buy visas, while travel between the UK and USA requires ESTA authorisation. Do remember to check the visa requirements before booking. 

Did you know….? 
According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), you should be entitled to a full refund under most circumstances if lockdown laws make the holiday illegal. 

Research the lockdown restrictions in the country you’re visiting

Countries around the globe have different rules on social distancing, mask-wearing and more. Check that you can do all the things you want to enjoy, from museum-going to restaurant-dining, in the country you’re planning to visit.  

Some countries have imposed curfew rules, so check if the country you’re visiting has them and if they apply to tourists too.

Double – make that triple – check cancellation policies before booking

This applies to both flights and accommodation. With things changing so swiftly, you’ll want to cover your bases before booking or you could risk losing your money.   

This is particularly important when looking at different offerings from package-holiday companies, where you’ll stumble across phrases like ‘package-refund guarantee’ or ‘free changes’. Check exactly what’s meant by those promises, as different companies offer different interpretations. Make sure you understand the full process required in order to amend or cancel your holiday booking, as well as the circumstances that enable you to benefit from any guarantees. 

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is always important for holidays – who doesn’t want to feel secure if something happens while you’re away or you need to cancel your trip last-minute?  

COVID-19 restrictions and rapidly changing rules make travel insurance even more important: you may want to make sure you’re getting the insurance policy you want, which covers all the pandemic-related situations you would like it to.  

Check the details on what happens if you fall ill and you’re abroad – will you need to quarantine? Will you be covered for the medical care you need? 

You may also want to make sure you’re covered for additional transport and accommodation expenses, if you need to extend your trip as a result of coronavirus.  

Most premiums should cover cancellation but it does vary by provider, so check carefully before booking. However, most insurance providers won’t cover the cost of quarantine on your return, so please do check before you book. 

Find out more about travel insurance with cover for Covid-19-related disruption.  

If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises against all but essential travel, then under some policies, your insurance would be void (even if the trip is essential). If you need to take an essential trip then make sure to check your insurance policy. 

If you need to travel against FCDO advice, you may want to check with your insurance provider to see if you will be covered. 

Know the rules

Travel rules are constantly changing. Make sure you check the relevant government websites before you book and travel.

How to compare travel insurance with Compare the Market

Compare the Market can show you a range of travel insurance quotes. Just answer a few questions about the type of trip you’re booking, whether you need additional cover for water sports, winter sports, cruises, for example, as well as more detailed questions, like the maximum you can claim per person for medical bills, cancellation or baggage cover

Make sure you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions.

The level of cover you’ll receive is summarised on Compare the Market results page when you search, so you can find the right cover for you. If you want a policy that has COVID-19 cover, just tick the box on the results page when you’re comparing, then check the policy details so you know exactly what you’ll be covered for.  

Remember it’s all in the detail, so read all the small print. Check the insurance information document before you buy to make sure you have the right level of protection – all the information is on Compare the Market’s quote results page. 

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